Five Traits of Highly Effective Farmers
How can you succeed in the farming business?
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1. Effective Time Management
Managing your time wisely is crucial when your source of income relies on the weather, or a herd of sometimes unpredictable animals. Farmers can’t afford to waste any time as the seasons change.
You won’t find good farmers sitting around twiddling their thumbs during their down time. Even when the harvest or planting seasons are over, you’ll find effective farmers servicing their equipment, searching for new parts, and getting their business plan put together the upcoming year.
There’s a joke that a roll of baling twine can turn any farmer into MacGyver. It’s funny because there’s a lot of truth behind it. Sometimes farmers need to brainstorm creative solutions to problems around the farm.
When a calf dies, or when the tractor breaks down, what is the next course of action? Innovation is just a part of the farming lifestyle. If plan A fails, they move on to plan B, and then sometimes plan C and D. Resourceful farmers can think outside the box to resolve complications.
3. Communication and Networking
Everyone can recall a story of neighbors helping neighbors overcome adversity. Whether it is a barn raising or help with harvesting, the spirit of community hasn’t left rural towns. The most proficient farmers recognize the importance of making connections in their towns.
When they find themselves in a bind, these farmers have built up a contact list of people in their community that they can call on for help. They understand the importance of seeking the sage advice of older farmers who have been in the business for decades, or making friends with the neighbor skilled at making equipment repairs. The farmer who makes friends in the business will make it, and the farmer who helps others in need is sure to get it back.
4. Wisdom with Money
Getting into the farming business means dealing with large amounts of money and investments. There can be a lot of money coming in, but at the same time a lot of money is going out.
A farmer needs to consider input costs, such as the cost of necessities like seed, equipment, chemicals, and fertilizer. Another cost to consider is the cost of land, and land is expensive, even if you’re renting. By the time everything is subtracted, the actual profit for the farmer is much less than the numbers coming in. The diligent farmer carefully considers these costs, and practices good budgeting and saving. They keep careful records, and realize that prices will fluctuate and are ready to tighten their belt as needed.
The work of a farmer is tough, tiring, and often thankless. Farmers who have made their way in the business may joke that they’re just lucky, but in order to stay in the business an iron will is required, and the foresight to see better times ahead when the business is hard.
A common misconception of farming is that it’s a career like any other, and just another way to make money. But it’s not. Any farmer with deep roots in the business can tell you that it’s so much more than that. It’s a lifestyle deeply rooted in American history, and it’s a way of life that many feel is worth the struggle.
Feeding the nation isn’t an easy task, but a good farmer sees the big picture and value in their work, and they will persevere despite the hardships.